I didn’t pay much attention when Kirk Cameron made anti-gay remarks last week. After all, he’s a sad dweeb who used to be on a popular TV show–or that’s what I hear. I never watched “Growing Pains.” I didn’t pay much attention when he defended himself this week:
“I should be able to express moral views on social issues,” he told ABC News via email, “especially those that have been the underpinning of Western civilization for 2,000 years — without being slandered, accused of hate speech, and told from those who preach ‘tolerance’ that I need to either bend my beliefs to their moral standards or be silent when I’m in the public square.”
But I couldn’t ignore the always lucid and entertaining science fiction writer John Scalzi. This week Scalzi cogently explained the First Amendment to the petulant Cameron:
Well, Kirk Cameron, here’s the thing. You are correct when you say you should be able to express your moral views on social issues, and as a staunch defender of the First Amendment, I will defend to the death your right to say whatever ridiculous, ignorant and bigoted thing that has been fermenting in that cracked clay pot you call a brain pan. But the First Amendment also means that when you say such things, other people have the a right to mock you and the silly, stupid words that have dribbled out of your skull through that word hole above your chin. If you call someone “unnatural,” they might call you an “asshole.” That’s the deal.
To put it another way: The First Amendment guarantees a right to speech. It does not guarantee a right to respect. As I am fond of saying, if you want people to respect your ideas, get better ideas. Likewise, freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequence. If you’re going to parade around on television engaging in hateful bastardry, then, strangely enough, people will often call you out on it. They may also call you out on the hypocrisy of maintaining that when you say that the way someone else lives is unnatural and detrimental to civilization, you mean it with love, but when they call your words bigoted trollspeak, they’re crossing a line or engaging in slander — the legal concept of which, incidentally, you don’t appear to understand very well, nor libel, which generally speaking is probably more applicable in this case, you crazy public figure, you.
“Get better ideas…” Oh, how I wish I’d thought of that!
This political season has brought out a lot of “pagan” and “Pagan” bashing–some of it done with “love” but much of it done with undisguised malice. We’ve heard so much blather about the “War on Christianity” when we’ve asked asked for more civility, more respect for other opinions in the Public Square… When we’ve asked for that separation of church and state… So it does my heart good to read Scalzi’s last words on the subject, “You’re entitled to your stupid, petty, awful, hateful bigoted opinion. Everyone else is entitled to call it exactly what it is.”
I will be quoting this essay frequently on Facebook. Can’t wait!
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